Dear members of the university community,

I am writing to invite you to participate in the first two sessions in a series of conversations on potentially divisive issues involving campus and community stakeholders. Next week, we will hold a conversation on Native imagery, followed a week later by another discussion on the topic of free speech.

Public universities like ours have a responsibility to be the place where public and open conversations about even the most difficult ideas and issues happen. As a society we will not find new solutions to our most pressing challenges if we cannot even talk about them. That is what we envision for this series. These conversations are a first step in understanding different perspectives and finding common ground to move us forward and beyond the issues that divide us.

The Native imagery conversation will take place April 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the multipurpose room on the second floor of the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building, 301 E. Gregory Drive, Champaign. Kevin Gover, the director of the National Museum of the American Indian, and Dan Maloney, an Illinois alumnus and former portrayer of Chief Illiniwek, will provide context for the conversation. Registration is required as space is limited.

The second conversation, on the topic of free speech, occurs April 17 from noon to 1 p.m. in Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana. Speakers will be Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley school of law; and Geoffrey Stone, a former law school dean and former provost at the University of Chicago. Registration is not required.

Audio and video recording of these events will not be permitted. These have been designated “approved events." With prior approval and operations permitting, non-exempt civil service employees may attend the event without loss of pay.

The Chancellor’s Critical Conversations series is designed to explore difficult issues and answer challenging questions together, as a university community. The goal of each event is to challenge beliefs, opinions and viewpoints through careful listening and the thoughtful expression of different voices, perspectives and ideas.

I hope you will join us.

Best regards,

Robert J. Jones

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Office of the Chancellor

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